Tuesday, February 15, 2011


One of the items on my 101 Things in 1001 Days List was to get all the remaining piles of branches from the 2007 Epic Ice Storm burned. Last week we did just that.

I know you're probably thinking, "Now, wait a minute! 2007?! That was four years ago and you haven't been able to get the place cleaned up since?"


Most of the time the plethora of trees that grow on this little farm are a good thing--they provide much-needed shade during the brutal Kansas summers. However, when you combine 70+ year old, untrimmed trees, a massive ice storm, and my Dad being the only one picking up the thousands upon thousands of branches that literally covered every inch of these ten acres (he offered to pay people from work to come help him but they never showed up), then you get a little behind with clean-up. He went three weeks without electricity (and heat) alone, so it was a really bad situation. He couldn't even drive out to the road because of all the branches all over. He was finally able to clear a path through the front yard (where there aren't too many trees) to be able to make it out. Unfortunately I was in Texas when this all happened. It was a bad deal all round, and I hate to say we haven't even touched the shelter belts yet (it's on my list), but for now, the two remaining brush piles (we had burned three of them already last year) are finally no more.

These last two piles also happened to be the largest, and most dangerous to burn, hence having to wait until the absolute perfect conditions to get it done. There had to be enough snow on the ground to ensure the rest of the place didn't go up in flames, and yet it had to be warm enough to get the hoses out and/or bucket water in case something did get out of hand. There also had to be no wind at all, a very rare feat in southcentral Kansas.

Here's the first (and biggest) pile.

You'll notice it's smack-dab in between two crusty old buildings. I wouldn't mind if these caught fire, but it would actually be a bad thing because we wouldn't be able to control it. We needed to make sure this was a controlled burn.

You can see just how massive this pile was. It was as long as the sheep shed and garage put together, as wide as the barn, and about eight feet tall in some places.

There were also a few kitchen cabinets thrown in here. I won't miss those old, nasty things at all.

I had moved the horses to the furthest pens from the fire. It was safe as their pen was located several feet from this pile, but I didn't need them inhaling smoke. All the critters were inside. I had even left the barn kitties in their kennel (from their spay) so I knew no one could get hurt. I had the buckets and hose ready and had called into the Sheriff's office. We were set.

Dad got the matches, newspaper, and diesel together and got the fire going.

The wood is so old and dry that it didn't take it long to take off.

The fire got so hot that we had to stand back about 20 feet from it. The building to the left actually started smoking because it got so hot, so we threw some water on it to cool it off. Thankfully nothing caught fire that wasn't supposed to!

In no time everything was reduced to a pile of ashes (which I will have to clean up by hand).

I forgot to mention, underneath that pile was an old wooden cattle chute. Rather than try to take apart all those heavy old rusted bolts by hand the whole thing just burned with the pile, including the posts. It's going to make for an easy cleanup!

By sunset there wasn't much left, and the next day there was not even a single post left standing.

The final burn pile was one in front of the house.

Because it wasn't very big and it was snow-laden, it took a while to take off, but eventually most everything burned.

You can see just how hot these fires get!

Welcome to hell....muwhahahahaha!

Pardon me....

It actually made for a pretty scene as the sun set.

I got up through the night to make sure the fires were still well-contained. By dawn both were pretty much out and this weekend I went through them and checked for live embers (one can never be too careful). Cleaning up the mess remaining won't be fun, but it will be really nice to see this old place get cleaned up--getting rid of the old and making way for the new!

No jokes about my big ash now,



Grey Horse Matters said...

Seems like it was a big chore but now that it's done the place will look great for Spring. The fire was pretty against the snow.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I'm terrified of fire but I love watching it burn. Beautiful evening shot!

oneoldcowgirl said...

The completion of a big job. Things will look so much tidier now.

SallymetHarryHorse said...

what a beautiful blog! so glad i found this, your photos and writings are stunning

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Wow - that was a huge job. Must be pretty satisfying looking at the ash pile :) Pretty shots of fire and sunset!

Jessie McCandless said...

Thanks so much, everyone. It will be nice to start getting the old farm all cleaned up.

Sally, welcome! I adore your blog and drawings. Thanks for finding me :)

Nicole said...

Yeah I would say having all the snow around would be pretty fair conditions for that!! That 2007 ice storm (both of them, Jan & Dec) sucked a$$!!!

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor said...

Awesome photos. I love a good fire!